My mom always said that the only measure of a good Italian restaurant is their red sauce. Just like she was correct about every man I've ever dated, she's correct about this too. Inevitably 50% of the menu is going to incorporate marinara. And if you're going to be ballsy enough to actually name your restaurant "Sauce" you better come correct.
Sauce restaurant is slightly more hip than your average red sauce Italian joint. It is located on the corner of Rivington and Allen which attracts a younger crowd & wait staff than your Little Italy options. The inside of the space is vast with multiple dining rooms, a large wrap around bar, and a private event space. There is dark wood everywhere and antique wall paper which make it feel homey and relaxed. They keep the rooms very dark so you could essentially have a romantic date inside when the sun is shining brightly outside. We opted for the patio which is a-ok for people watching.
The food itself is casual, devout of any fuss or pretension. It’s very grandma’s house-esque. For appetizers and small plates they have all the comfort food you want like bruschetta & dynamite meatballs. They swim in the rich, slightly sweet marinara sauce. Don’t miss the ultra craveable “plank;” polenta topped with a rich beef ragu & a pile of cheese.
Pastas are handmade and arrive in massive portions, cooked perfectly chewy. I'll go out on a limb and say they have the best caccio e pepe in Manhattan. The pasta and sauce stay unctuous as you eat unlike most versions of this which become drier than the Sahara desert after 2 bites. Their version of bolognese perfectly clings to the al dente spaghetti. While we were elbow deep in carbs our waiter kept the drinks flowing. High marks for keeping me buzzed. Here’s what we had:
STACKED SALAD - Arugula, endive, radicchio, beefsteak tomatoes, black sea salt, lemon, EVOO
MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA - Beefsteak tomatoes, basil, EVOO, black sea salt